When the day comes that you hold the proof copy of your book in your hands, you may feel such relief and exhilaration that you forget you still have work to do. You’re close to the end of the production process but this one last step is crucial – reviewing your proof copy.
Here are eight steps to follow to ensure that you review your proof copy efficiently and with confidence that you’ve covered everything.
I suggest that you plan on three separate reviews of your proof copy.
Each review focuses on a specific group of issues and it’s easier to stay focused if you aren’t trying to look at everything at one time.
The first review should be an overview that looks at the framing or structural components of the book:
- Fan through the book slowly to confirm that the format is consistent throughout the book. You want to be looking at the pages as visual components of the work. Note if you see changes in font or inconsistencies in layout. Don’t look at specific words here – this is a visual tour through the book.
- Now look carefully at the headers, footers and page numbers in your book. Ensure that they are correct throughout the book.
- Review the Table of Contents and ensure that it is correct.
- Match your Table of Contents with every chapter heading to confirm that page numbers are correct and that no chapter has been dropped. (It happens.)
- Check the Index, if you have one. Confirm all references and page numbers.
The second review focuses on all the non-text elements in your book – graphics, tables, captions and the cover.
- Look carefully at each image, graphic, table and caption to be sure that everything is properly placed and properly labeled. Make sure that nothing is missing.
- Review your book cover in detail, confirming that all non-text elements are correct and properly placed.
The third review is the line-by-line review of all text. This review includes the cover text.
- Go through the entire book (and cover text) line-by-line looking for typos or grammatical errors that were not caught in earlier editing or proofing stages. Also look for places where lines may have been dropped in typesetting/layout.
If you follow these eight steps, you can be assured that your book will be as good as it can be in terms of quality of content. Be aware that most books still contain errors, despite the best intentions and careful scrutiny of editors and proofreaders. A few errors are acceptable; dozens are not.
As an author, your careful review of your proof copy is an essential part of your creative process. After completing these eight review steps, you can feel confident that the final book will be as close to perfect as possible.